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Local doctor served as eye specialist during WWI

By Staff | Oct 10, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Phillip H. Decker of Montgomery was a physician during WWI.

MONTGOMERY – Philip “Harold” Decker, M.D., son of Alex and Rose (Hartranft) Decker was born in Clinton Township near Montgomery in 1894. The following year, he along with siblings Armina, Rachel and Paul, were baptized at Christ Evangelical Church in Brady Township, Lycoming County, PA.

Dr. Decker was educated in the Public schools and Montgomery High after which he took a course in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with the class of 1917.

Immediately in June 1917, at the U. S. Naval Yards in Philadelphia, Doctor Decker enlisted in World War I. He was assigned to the Navy Medical Corps and one year later, was promoted to senior grade Lieutenant with the transport service. The doctor first served at the U. S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C. and then with the Naval Recruiting Station in the same city.

Dr. Decker served overseas from Dec 1918 to August 1919 before being discharged at Norfolk, VA.

During his tenure, Decker served aboard the U. S.S. Paysand, a troop transport acquired to repatriate American troops from France after WWI. While in New York harbor, the ship was taken over by the U.S. Navy and after six months, returned to her owner, the government of Uruguay.

In Washington D. C. in February 1919, Dr. Decker wed Catharine Teresa Sullivan, a native of that city, and daughter of James and Nellie Sullivan.Teresa had been a female yeoman with the Navy serving from November 1917 until their marriage.

In 1922 and 1923, Dr. Decker took a two-year course in post graduate work in Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania. He then located in Williamsport as an eye specialist.

In 1925, Dr. Decker was elected Vice President of the Lycoming County Medical Society where he was said to have been, “An earnest worker taking active part in all society affairs.”

The Decker’s resided in Williamsport, first on Campbell Street and finally at 715 Grampian Boulevard. To the couple were born Lois Patricia, Joan M. and Robert W. Decker.

At age 66, Philip Harold Decker died December 8, 1960 at Williamsport Hospital. The deceased was interred in Fairview Cemetery near Montgomery. His wife survived him by 32 years succumbing on April 8, 1992, and interred in the same cemetery.

Dr. Decker’s sister, Armina Frances Decker, also served in the Navy during WWI.